1951 in South Africa
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- Monarch: King George VI.
- Governor-General and High Commissioner for Southern Africa: Gideon Brand van Zyl (until 1 January), Ernest George Jansen (starting 1 January).
- Prime Minister: Daniel François Malan.
- Chief Justice: Albert van der Sandt Centlivres.
- 30 – The Group Areas Act, passed in 1950, becomes law.
- 14 – Cabinet votes for the removal of Coloured people from the voters roll.
- 24 – The first part of the Afrikaans Dictionary Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (WAT) is published, a project which was begun in 1926 by Prof. J.J. Smith of Stellenbosch University.
- 29 – Blacks, Coloureds and Indians meet for the first time to discuss a plan of action against race discrimination laws.
- Unknown date
- Max Theiler, virologist, is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for developing a vaccine for yellow fever, the first South African to receive a Nobel Prize.
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- 6 April – Robert Broom, the Scottish paleontologist who discovered Mrs Ples. (b. 1866)
- 23 May – Sefako Makgatho, the 2nd African National Congress president. (b. 1861)
- 14 October – Herman Charles Bosman, writer and journalist. (b. 1905)
- 5 November – Reggie Walker, athlete (b. 1889)
- 28 November – Clements Kadalie, trade unionist. (b. 1896)
Railway lines opened
- 13 June – Transvaal: Grootvlei to Redan, 39 miles 1 chain (62.8 kilometres).
- 21 December – Transvaal: Springs to Welgedag, 5 miles 19 chains (8.4 kilometres).
- 22 December – The first 200 kilometre Dusi Marathon, with four pairs of canoeists taking part, starts on the Umsindusi River which joins the Umgeni River in the Valley of a Thousand Hills. Since only Ian Player stays the course and finishes, it is declared that there is no winner.
- Statement Showing, in Chronological Order, the Date of Opening and the Mileage of Each Section of Railway, Statement No. 19, p. 191, ref. no. 200954-13